1993 Mumbai serial blasts case: TADA court to give verdict against seven accused today
Mumbai city news: On March 12, 1993, a series of 12 blasts rocked Mumbai, killing 257 people and injuring 713 othersmumbai Updated: Jun 16, 2017 09:13 IST
A designated court of Terrorist And Disruptive Activities (Prevention) (TADA) Act will pronounce its verdict against the seven accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts today.
On March 12, 1993, a series of 12 blasts rocked Mumbai, killing 257 people and injuring 713 others. Check the 12 spots, here
The accused are Abu Salem, Mustafa Dossa, Firoz Khan, Riyaz Siddiqui, Karimullah Shaikh, Mohammad Tahir Merchant alias Tahir Taklya and Abdul Qayyum. Special public prosecutor Deepak Salvi concluded the arguments in July 2016.
According to the prosecution, Mustafa Dossa, with his brother Mohammad, organised key meetings to discuss the blasts. Mustafa is accused of sending weapons from Dubai and Pakistan to the western coast of India, while Mohammad is alleged to have used the network to receive the consignment.
- Of the seven accused, the CBI recorded confessions of Salem, Khan and Shaikh, who gave details of the conspiracy and its execution
- The prosecution relied on the evidence of 686 witnesses recorded by the TADA court during the trial of 129 accused, including Yakub Memon and Sanjay Dutt. Of the 129, the special TADA court, in 2006, convicted 100
- The prosecution examined 50 other witnesses in the trial.
Salem was booked for delivering the consignment of arms and ammunition at various places, including the house of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt.
Siddique provided logistical support – arranging car and finance for transportation of the accused -- and ammunition. He also attended many of the meetings where the conspiracy was hatched.
Tahir has been charged with facilitating travel of the accused to Pakistan via Dubai for training of arms and ammunitions.
Shaikh and Khan have been charged with helping in off-loading of consignments sent by Dossa.
The trial dilemma
The TADA court had separated the trials of the accused and those declared absconding, with the ruling that evidence of witnesses recorded through the earlier trial can be used against all of them. The Supreme Court allowed the evidence to be considered (taken on record), on condition that the accused be allowed to cross-examine all witnesses.
Using this privilege, Dossa asked the prosecution:
1. If the evidence of witnesses recorded in the previous trial can be used against the accused, who were not declared absconders but arrested later in the case
2. The confessions of accused who were tried earlier can be used against the accused now facing the trial
Dossa had earlier moved an application alleging he was never declared absconder, but was arrested at a later stage during investigation. Dossa’s lawyer, Rizwan Merchant, argued as his trial was separated from the main case and he was not declared an absconder, the evidence recorded in previous trial cannot be used against him. The same argument was raised by all accused, except Salem.
“The Apex Court order , where all accused were given an opportunity to question all accused again, has far-reaching consequences. Hence the defence can’t claim prejudice as the witnesses have been re-examined in the court,” Salvi said.
The key evidence against the seven accused are the confessions of the co-accused, convicts and witnesses
The accused said the confession statement of the co-accused, who were part of the first trial, cannot be used against them as they were not tried together
The court, during the conclusion of arguments, said the issues would be decided at the stage of final judgment
Salvi said the accused and those absconding should not be allowed to take advantage of “legal loopholes to escape punishment”.